I am seriously losing track of time, but maybe being in a time warp isn’t such a bad thing? You can escape reality fairly easily.
After Seville, I boarded another AVE train towards Barcelona. Again, happy to report some comfortable seating and this trip was short and sweet – a mere 5 hours.
I can’t get over the washrooms.
The futuristic, rounded door! I was propelled into a Star Trek episode. Whee!
Seats - dry as a bone.
Look at that floor, clean enough to eat off of. Well, not really, but totally possible in theory.
Thanks to the wonder of Twitter I set up a lunch date with Renee, a Norwegian who now lives in Barcelona.
By the time I got to Barcelona Sants station, I was definitely exhausted, but determined to see some of the city.
It took some time to figure out the metro, but we managed to pick the Barcolenta station as our meeting point.
On order was paella, which I completely missed in Seville.
Renee took me to her favorite paella spot, Arroseria, a short walk from the Barcolenta TMB stop.
I ordered a salad right away, because I miss my greens ever so much. Then we dug into paella.
Mine - scallops cooked Galician style.
Hers – jumbo prawns (with a face), clams and rabbit!
I ate the whole damn thing. No regrets. The restaurant then treated us to a glass of cava, a Spanish sparkling wine – free! Baby, that’s service.
We were situated right by a heavy traffic tourist area of the beach, so we took a stroll.
I was awed by the W hotel, one of many in the world.
Speaking of, Renee has connections to an event at W, called Eclipse. It’s a swanky to-do and she can get you (or me) on the guest list. Next time I’m in Barcelona, I’m throwing on my 1-inch heels (I can’t go higher than that, sorry) and hitting that party in hopes of finding my travel Sugar Daddy.
After our walk on the steamy paths by the beach, I hauled it back to Sants, where I stored my heavier backpack. Here’s where ‘unplanning’ becomes a problem. I literally had nowhere to sleep that night, figuring I’d wing it. My train for Paris left at 9:00 am, so why hostel it?
Maybe I’d bunk down at the station. Uh…. as I “settled” down for the night with some earplugs, a security guard with a muzzled German Shepherd came by and nudged me.
“Train station closing.” 11 pm. Oh. Damn. The dog stared at me hungrily. Time to get out. NOW.
I pulled out my trusty laptop and tep wireless device and found a hostel not far from the station.
I was so grumpy and tired that when I arrived to #145, confusion set in. I stopped a man on the street, who thankfully spoke English, begging him to help me, very much on the verge of tears.
“149 is right here, where that bus is standing.” Oh. Damn. I am so not “with it” when I’m exhausted. My confirmation said ’149′, my brain received ’145′.
I walked into a bustling common area of people, why they were still awake was beyond me. Despite my exhaustion, I spotted the reception quickly. Score!
An equally grumpy, stone-faced man sat at the desk. He spoke no English whatsoever. Didn’t indicate I had a reservation and kept pointing at a piece of paper that said 25.50 €. Dude, what happened to only 19.90 € as it said on my confirmation email?
He grunted out something about giving him my passport. Why, I asked, do you need my passport? He violently opened a drawer and showed me a handful of passports. So many countries in one hand. Kind of frightening.
I was at the point of passing out, uttered the word “fuck”. Take my passport, you unforgiving bastard.
He threw some white sheets (thank god, they were actually white) onto the counter, beckoned me to follow him, leading me into the elevator. I was internally freaking out at being passportless, wondering where ‘silent, but deadly’ was taking me. Some torture room? Where I can’t escape and have to cut off my foot in order to leave?
He led me to a numbered door, opened it with a master key, which made me panic more.
The room was dark, but at least I didn’t see a cage of starved, bleeding backpackers. Just backpacks, shoes and the like.
Yet, I was not satisfied.
“Don’t I get my own key?” I opened my hand, ready to receive it. He just smirked and gestured to the washrooms. Apparently, I didn’t know where they were and he had to show me. He shut the door, cutting off my access to the world.
By then, I was overtired, paranoid about the passport, so sleep was thin, so freakin’ thin.
I decided to leave at 6 bloody am, and get the hell out of there, rehearsing what I would say if he wouldn’t give me back my passport.
I staggered down to reception, prepared to face off against Mr. Nice, when he offered my passport eagerly, as long as I paid the 25 €. Back at this again?
Strangely enough, two people were in the lobby speaking Spanish, one a native, the other an elderly American man, dressed in an outdated, white tuxedo. I’m talking deep back to the 70′s, kind of tuxedo. What? I was so tired, I must have been seeing a mirage.
The American with the soft, southern accent stepped in as ‘Nice’ launched into some rant about me not paying, taking back my passport. I countered with showing him the email. 19.90! 19.90!
“He says he has no record of a reservation, he’s just the night worker, and doesn’t have access to that information.”
Oh swell, the best hostel in the world has equipped their night staff well. By then, I was starting to feel sour on hostels in general, and Barcelona. In fact, throughout my one-day stay, more than one Spanish person who works in the tourism industry barked at me.
I paid the 25 Euros, so I could get my passport back and vowed to email the day staff, I think I’m owed a deposit back. And why was the American wearing a tux at six in the morning? A conference for biochemists. Oh, that explains everything.
After that interesting experience, I hopped on the Renfe line to make it to France. I slept fitfully, drool and all, waking up in Montpellier.
At this point, it was a toss-up. Continue onto Nice as initially planned or give Paris a test drive?
I’ve heard polarizing opinions about gay Paree. Snobs. Piles of dog poo. Cold city, socially.
A must. Magical. You are making a mistake.
It was a last minute decision. Paris.
So, I arrived at mid afternoon. Was smart enough to book hostel beforehand, a new building converted into a restaurant and hostel, right by the Bassin de la Villette, a former industrial area, which connects the River Seine to the famous Canal St-Martin. The scenic canals were a backdrop for the film Amelie (my cat’s name!).
Basically… Hehe.. Paris!
It’s everything Paris lovers say it is, incessantly romantic. I didn’t even care about monuments per say, just walking the streets unearths some glorious architectural wonder, pounding me in the chest with infatuation. The French language comforted me, they speak from the throat, deeply, purring like a basketful of kittens. Makes me want to curl up in a duvet and smile until I fall asleep.
I could spend some serious months here. And honestly, I thought I would say that about Barcelona.
Weird how attraction works.
Where to next? Italy. Milano. Bellissima.